By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
September 13 - Munich's campaign to host the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics suffered another setback today when an umbrella group of German conservation organisations withdrew from the Bid Committee after claiming its plans were environmentally irresponsible.
The organisation, Deutscher Naturschutzring (DNR), claimed that current Olympic plans for the alpine resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen - where most of the ski events are due to be held - were not acceptable.
"We consider, after careful examination of the bid files and two long talks with leading bid representatives that the hosting of the Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen with its narrow valleys and its ecologically important areas is irresponsible," DNR General Secretary Helmut Roescheisen said.
"There is just far too much infrastructure work involved, what with the athletes village, the media village, even the expansion of the skiing slopes, that we just cannot be part of this commission and are dropping out of it."
Roescheisen admitted that he knew the DNR's withdrawal would be a blow to Munich's chances of beating rivals Annecy and Pyeongchang.
"I know the International Olympic Committee is monitoring the environmental aspects and if we as the German umbrella organisation say this is unsound then there is some weight to this," he said.
Bid Committee Board chairman Michael Vesper (pictured) expressed his surprise about the DNR withdrawal from the Environmental Commission and claimed Munich had a good environmental concept.
"The vision for an environmentally friendly Games has in no way failed," he said.
"Quite the opposite.
"This is the the most ambitious environmental concept for an Olympic bid in decades.
"We will continue working to convince the critics.
"Minimal land use, renewable energies, use of existing venues and the protective management of nature are the foundations of the Munich 2018 environmental and sustainability concept.
"We are pleased that member federations of the DNR, like the German Mountaineering Association (DAV) and German Bird Protection Association among others, will remain members of our Commission and will help optimise Munich 2018’s environmental concept.
"Our door will always be open to the DNR and we will continually seek and act on their advice."
Nevertheless it is another damaging blow for Munich coming a week after chief executive Willy Bogner quit as chief executive because of ill health only a few days after claiming his future was not in doubt.
Bernard Schwank, who has replaced Bogner, as chief executive, though, remained optimistic.
"We are still working together with the Sport University Cologne, the Ecological Institute and other partners in the Commission, to finalise our strong sustainability concept which will be presented in the next few weeks," he said.
"The vision of environmentally friendly Games has in no way been damaged - on the contrary it remains innovative and robust.
"The Munich 2018 environmental concept is possibly the most ambitious in the history of Olympic bidding.
"All parties involved in the Munich bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games 2018 have a keen interest and are committed to organising one of the most ecologically compatible Winter Games ever."
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